What will airports of the future look like – a passenger perspective

Following on from the last post is this video from the BBC on the airports of the future: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/fast_track/9443769.stm

The piece is based around the premise that in 20 years time passenger numbers will double to pass 12 billion so airports and cities will have to cope with more people using and working in them.  One suggestion has been the “aerotropolis” – a city with the airport at its centre rather than on its fringes as they are at present.

The video raises lots of interesting possibilities but for us we are most interested in the human side of how passengers will use these changing, growing airports.

One of the keys seems to be the notion of airports that are designed to be big rather than what we have at the moment which are airports that grow incrementally or remain too small for the passenger numbers.  An interesting challenge to keep an airport still feeling manageable and navigable.  Maybe you need will need to divide the space up into many more smaller terminals and keep the distance from your arriving transport to plane as small as possible.

Clearly technology will play its part.  One can envisage technologies like electronic paper providing a ticket or boarding card that is interactive and actually helps direct you from entry to gate.

New ways of providing transit for people across and around the airport will be required as the walking distances will be too big.  Again this might mean lots of different ways into the airport whilst providing an environment that isn’t too confusing – not easy!

As the video pointed out if we think the hassle of security is bad now one can imagine that it won’t get better without a step change in the technology.  New scanning technologies that can speed up the security process will emerge but need to well designed to be usable by staff so that the human interaction isn’t something that slows it all down again.



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